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04 Dec 2021

Tipperary horse thief threatened with jail if she doesn't pay compensation

Tipperary horse thief threatened with jail if she doesn't pay compensation

Judge Elizabeth MacGrath: Will suspend a jail sentence for a woman who stole a mare and foal if compensation is paid

The theft of a mare and foal near Templederry must have had a “terrible effect”, Judge Elizabeth MacGrath told the perpetrator at Nenagh Court.

Valerie O’Shea of Gurtagarry, Templederry, had pleaded guilty at an earlier court to the theft of the mare and foal at Gurtagarry, Toomevara.

The case had been adjourned for a probation report, a victim personal statement and to establish the value of the animals.

Ms O’Shea committed the offence on dates unknown between June 1, 2018, and February 10, 2019.

The court heard that the owners had valued the mare at €12,000 and the foal at €8,000.

However, solicitor Elizabeth McKeever, for Ms O’Shea said that this was disputed by her client.

The values had been given by the person from whom the animals had been stolen, she said.

Ms O’Shea maintained that the actual values of the animals were “much lower”.

After reading the victim personal statement, the judge stated at last Friday’s sitting that the theft of the animals “had a terrible effect on the the injured party’s children”.

“No money is going to compensate the children for the loss of the horses they loved and that’s the real issue here in the victim personal statement,” she said.

Ms McKeever submitted that there was no way the court could assess the veracity of the statement, but the judge said she would have to take what the injured party had stated in it into account.

“It’s not an unreasonable assessment that if the horses were with the family for some time that the children would be fond of them. I need to consider a custodial sentence,” said the judge.

Ms McKeever said she would “urge” that this not be the ruling of the court as Ms O’Shea had no previous convictions and had a difficult background.

Asked by Judge McGrath about the prospect of financial compensation for the loss of the animals, Ms McKeever said her client had told her she could have €500 by December. She was working but had a very low income.

Judge MacGrath adjourned the case to February 24, 2022, ordering that Ms O’Shea have €1,000 compensation on that date.

“If she comes up with that amount I am going to take the view that a custodial sentence is appropriate, but I will suspend it,” she said.

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